What to Know
- Actor Shia LaBeouf has been co-leading a live-streamed anti-Trump protest outside the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens
- He was arrested last month on assault and harassment charges after allegedly grabbing, scratching and pushing a man at a protest
- The museum said Friday it was closing the exhibit over concerns about ongoing threats to public safety
A New York City museum has shut down its controversial anti-Trump livestream exhibit -- a brainchild of actor Shia LaBeouf -- amid mounting concerns over "serious public safety hazards" and repeated threats.
The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria said Friday the "HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US" installation -- a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week livestream from a camera mounted on one of its outside walls -- had "created an unexpectedly volatile situation."
The installation opened at 9 a.m. on the day of President Trump's inauguration and invited members of the public to deliver the words "He will not divide us" into the camera. Almost immediately, it was the site of clashes between protesters and Trump supporters, some of which turned violent.
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The museum said it had received dozens of threats of violence since the installation opened; police had to be stationed around it all day, every day.
LaBeouf himself was arrested outside the museum late last month when he got into an altercation with an unidentified 25-year-old man, though police said at the time the confrontation wasn't necessarily over Trump. The livestream caught part of the fray and appeared to show the man being pulled off screen by his scarf.
Another time, a man used the platform at night to repeat a line in support of Hitler, while another group used the feed to challenge LaBeouf, using derogatory language.
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"The installation created a serious and ongoing public safety hazard for the Museum, its visitors, staff, local residents, and businesses," the museum said in a statement. "We take our commitment to the safety of our 200,000 annual visitors and 50,000 school children attending programs at the Museum seriously, along with the safety and security of our staff and community."
LaBeouf previously said he wanted to keep the project running for four years. Shortly after the museum's announcement Friday, he tweeted a photo of a blacked-out Facebook Live with white text reading: "THE MUSEUM HAS ABANDONED US." He capped it off with #HEWILLNOTDIVIDEUS.
City councilman James Van Bramer, a Democrat who represents the museum's district, said constituents who live near the exhibit had said they felt unsafe.
"I was also shocked and outraged by the hateful symbols and rhetoric used by far too many at the exhibit. I witnessed racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, sexism and unabashedly pro-Nazi symbols and remarks on this live feed," Van Bramer said in a statement.
"Dissent, and dissenting voices, are always welcome at cultural institutions," he added. "But while I am a great supporter of culture in New York City, and believe strongly in the Museum of the Moving Image's decision to take on challenging works, including this one, it is clear that this installation became a public nuisance and a public safety hazard. That could not continue.”
LaBeouf's demonstration was one of tens of thousands across the country protesting Trump's victory in the November election.